Tuesday, April 9, 2013
This is a low-budget production that was distributed under the Eagle-Lion banner and released in 1949.
Counterfeit bills, and very good ones, start showing up. Secret Service investigators instantly recognise them as being printed from the same plates that were used a few years earlier in a very major counterfeit operation. Tris Stewart (Lloyd Bridges) is currently serving a long sentence for his part in that operation. Secret Service agents offer him a deal. He still has seven years to serve but they’ll offer him immediate parole if he’ll lead them to the people now using his plates, but to avert suspicion from his old gang they first have to arrange a phony jailbreak for him. Stewart agrees to the plan. The deal includes having Stewart watched continuously by a Secret Service agent but being a stool pigeon doesn’t really appeal to him so he beats up the agent and escapes and strikes out on his own.
An undercover agent, John Downey (John Hoyt) makes contact with Stewart and manages to convince him he’s an ideal business partner for a counterfeiting ring and it looks like the government men will nail the gang without too much trouble. That’s before things start going badly wrong. Maybe there’s still a chance that Stewart can be persuaded to play ball, but he’s an unpredictable quantity at the best of times and he hates cops so that’s a long shot.
The low budget isn’t a major drawback. The production values certainly are not A-picture standard but they’re than adequate and the movie is well-paced. The 78-minute running time won’t strain the viewer’s patience and in general the movie is technically competent with some reasonable location shots. Most importantly it isn’t burdened by any unnecessary attempts at comic relief.
Director Richard Fleischer would go on to much bigger things. He does a very competent job here, and the climactic scenes are expertly done. The movie has the characteristic dark and seedy feel of film noir although this is due more to the low budget than any actual intention on the part of the makers of the film.
Trapped is a good entertaining crime B-movie and is certainly worth a look.